Pentagon Will Not Call Russian Military Action in Ukraine “Invasion”

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby refused to call the apparent intrusion of Russian forces into Ukraine an “invasion,” but suggested it was a reaction to Ukraine’s recent gains against the Russian separatists. “I will not try to detail what the Russian military is doing. We don’t have a perfect view of the situation,” Kirby told Pentagon reporters Friday. But he said it was a continuation of the heavy buildup of forces on Ukraine’s borders and other actions intended to support the separatists. Kirby would not offer any new actions the US or its allies might take in response to the Russian “incursion,” but said it likely would be a major topic at the NATO summit next week in Wales. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will attend that summit, then go on to visit Georgia, which was invaded by Russia in 2008, and to Turkey, which he said, shares US concerns about the ISIS extremists’ advances in Iraq and Syria. Kirby said the stepped up US exercises and rotational deployments into Eastern Europe, most of which have involved Air Force units, would continue and “we have looked at ways to make the training regime more aggressive.” (See also Air Force Magazine’s September cover story on airpower in Europe.)